Outdoor home improvement equals “Curb Appeal”

By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels Photos courtesy of Las Cruces Utilities

In buying and selling real estate, an attractive exterior can make or break a home sale. Your home may not be for sale right now, but the time is exactly right for sprucing up the exterior and enjoying it yourself for years to come.

According to the National Association of Realtors, 63% of homebuyers will find a home they like based on online photos, and then get in the car and drive past. There’s a good chance you’ve done it yourself. The visual impact – the “curb appeal” – includes the front entry, yard, driveway, and sidewalk.

Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) can help improve your home’s curb appeal with a series of popular, free Lush and Lean (L&L) workshops. There are five more workshops coming up in May; so far in 2018 attendees have learned the elements of landscape design, how climate change is affecting our water supplies, how to identify and control weeds, grow water-wise vegetables, master soils and mulches, and conquer smart irrigation controllers. (You can set your alarm. You can set your coffee maker. Now, learn how to program an irrigation controller!)

All that information, shared freely by regional experts, with an eye toward water conservation! “On average, we’ve had about 50 people attend each of the Workshops so far this year – and LCU is hosting 5 more workshops starting Thursday evening May 3rd and continuing every Thursday through May 31st,” explains Rhonda Diaz, LCU water conservation program coordinator.

County Planner, David Cristiani, who is also a landscape architect, told attendees in this year’s third L&L presentation: “In the desert, it’s the appreciation of what we have all around that can allow us to create beautiful outdoor areas that are both functional and water efficient.”

“Think about the function you want your space to have first,” he explained. “But then consider what native plants will help create that…and keep it simple.”

Cristiani explained that both hobbyists and professionals tend to stray into two different extremes with their gardens. Either they plant too densely and don’t allow for mature growth of their plants, or they go with only dots of forlorn plants in a stark rock garden.

In the very first 2018 L&L Workshop, Professor David S. Gutzler, a trained meteorologist and now climate scientist at the University of New Mexico, explained that the mountain snow we count on for water through New Mexico is melting earlier than “normal” and evaporating more quickly, due to higher global temperatures. “The good news is there is increasing awareness, so we can get beyond just gloom and doom scenarios,” Gutzler said. “We have to think: How do we manage a precious resource like water in an intelligent way to keep our quality of life alive.”

Bill Lindemann, Ph.D., soil microbiology/plant physiology (retired) explained in the second L&L Workshop: “Soil is not just the stuff that holds a plant in the ground. Soil controls the nutrients, water, and oxygen available to the roots of plants.” Dr. Lindemann shared information about preparing and enriching your soil with nutrients and protecting it with mulches. That’s the “secret” that will allow you to use less water in your garden and produce stronger plants with more prolific harvests.

Upcoming L&L Workshops offer water saving information about selecting, propagating and pruning trees and shrubs, rainwater harvesting, not all bugs are bad bugs, and how to install your very own drip irrigation system.

Spring 2018


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